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Push-pull over secrecy continues in Detroit mayor text message scandal

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  1. Freedom of Information
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick this week lost one round of the ongoing legal battle in his steamy text-message scandal, when a county judge agreed…

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick this week lost one round of the ongoing legal battle in his steamy text-message scandal, when a county judge agreed to unseal the transcript of a closed mid-May hearing in his criminal case.

But just as surely, Kilpatrick’s attorney was expected back in court Thursday over new publicity concerns — a defense bid to keep prosecutors from filing more text messages. 

Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, were charged with perjury and other crimes in March after the Detroit Free Press published flirtatious messages the pair exchanged between 2002 and 2003.

Both had denied a romantic link under oath in a whistle-blower trial. 

In response to a Free Press request, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge William Giovan earlier this week ordered the transcript released and said the May 20 proceeding shouldn’t have been closed in the first place. 

"It was a perfectly innocuous hearing," the paper quoted the judge saying.

Kilpatrick’s attorney James Thomas didn’t disagree, but said he’d pushed for closure anyway "because of the principle of the mayor’s right to a fair trial," in the paper’s words.

Lawyers for both Kilpatrick and Beatty were due in court Thursday afternoon; her attorney has filed a written motion asking that the text messages be withheld until a judge can decide whether to admit them at trial. There again, out of concern for Beatty’s rights.